Ochna serrulata

Ochna serrulata

Ochna serrulata, commonly known as the mall-leaved plane, carnival bush, carnival ochna, or Bird's Eye Bush, is an ornamental garden plant which is highly invasive in parts of eastern Australia. Other names the shrub is known by include Micky Mouse Plant and Mickey Mouse bush because the plant's bright-red sepals resemble the face of Mickey Mouse. Its origin is South Africa, and it is in the Ochnaceae family.


Ochna serrulata was first described by the German naturalist Christian Ferdinand Friedrich Hochstetter, and given its current binomial name by Wilhelm Gerhard Walpers. Its specific epithet is derived from the Latin serrula "little saw", and refers to its fine-toothed leaf margins.


Ochna serrulata is a small shrub growing to between 1 and 2 m (3-7 ft) high, although it may occasionally become a small tree up to 6 m (20 ft) high. The narrow leaves are oblong to elliptic and measure 3-6 cm (1.2-2.4 in) in length by 0.8-1.5 cm wide, and are shiny green with fine toothed serrations along the leaf edges. During the spring, the shrub's fragrant yellow blossoms that appear are usually around 2 cm (0.8 in) in diameter. Though, the petals tend to drop soon after they bloom. Five or six fruits grow from the plant, which are attached to the sepals. While the fruit is developing, the sepals enlarge and turn bright red, in most cases turning the whole plant red. The 0.5 cm diameter fruit are initially pale green and turn black. In places including Kirstenbosch, the fruits on the plant start ripening in the early summer, while the red sepals last until around late summer. The flowers usually attract bees and butterflies, while the birds tend to eat the fruits from the plant. The seeds can be released by birds and water.

Distribution and habitat

The plant is native to tropical woodlands of Africa and Asia. It has been widely cultivated as an ornamental garden plant and has become a weed in New South Wales and southern Queensland in eastern Australia, where it is found near human habitation in and around large towns and cities.


Ochna serrulata is also one of several cultivated plants in Hawaii for their colorful flowers and unusual fruits. Originally, Ochna serrulata was used as symbol in various places around the world, and it is used at some festivals/holidays.


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